Dear Conservative Gay Men: I'm Issuing A F*ck Embargo

02/22/2017 09:30 am ET Updated May 29, 2017
Illustration by Lia Strasser

In my brief but mortifying two years in D.C., I was privy to a host of excruciating conversations:

“Eric Garner was really asking for it.”

“White men were the only group who got nothing under affirmative action.”

“Some degree of rape should be tolerated so long as no one is falsely accused.” (Since white men ostensibly also bear the burden of sexual assault allegations).

Because of my looks, research and/or origins, I would be “locked up right away” in Homeland’s “fictional” United States.

I flag these anecdotes because they all took place in the “safe space” of gay clubs.

Of late, there has been a spate of conservative gays, Log Cabin Republicans, DeploraBall debutantes ― and general Trump supporters ― who’ve written and spoken about the ordeal of “coming out” as conservative, and the shock that they have not been welcomed with open arms. The irony is that these stories mobilize the same language and logic of identity politics ― while denigrating identity politics ― to flip the script, so that conservatives are the innocent victims of liberals who are just so mean.

There is so much to parse in this sleight of hand: knee-jerk contrarianism; the strange bedfellows created by single issue voters; a confusion of anecdote with expertise; a sense that “feeling” right is as important as facticity. However, what makes this sense of injury so galling is that it is largely rhetorical, and frames disagreement as assault, as opposed to more overt or consequential forms of discrimination, deportation or violence. By trafficking in this false equivalence of injury, conservatives have eked out a “place at the table” of the “oppression Olympics” - exactly the posture they deplore - while refusing to acknowledge that others have good reason to feel actually threatened.

I am nothing if not committed to religious freedom (and inclusion), the right to free speech, the right of control over our own bodies - all of which have been central to the American gay rights movement. However, the rabid individualism and selfishness that renders these writers incapable of empathy is contrary to these ideals. While this attitude isn’t exclusive to gay conservatives, it is the pith that forms the meat of their narratives.

To these gay conservatives, since you have chosen the company to keep - enjoy these peers who legislate against your rights and dream of a country able to deny you service under the guise of religious toleration. Rather than reward you for simply holding a position, which Alexis de Tocqueville reminds us is the most basic and favorite American prerogative, I issue a FuckEmbargo.

While the Left may call out “racism,” “privilege,” “self-loathing” or any number of terms we would do well to recalibrate to better find their marks, you have enabled material consequences for millions of Americans (including yourself) vulnerable to the sweeping policy changes Trump envisions. If that consequence is as abhorrent as you suggest, get your house in order. Not to fear, this won’t to push the Right to a coherent platform, since there really is no there there beyond a ruthless desire to “win,” even when that means painting in the broadest strokes of fear and intolerance.

Hate may not be your aim, but it is the result of those with whom you have chosen to make common cause. While I encourage rigorous intellectual debate on the thought experiments of deregulation, lower taxes, and critiques of political correctness, when your representatives and pundits, like Milo Yiannopoulos, create an environment in which more and more Americans are endangered, your party is no longer about the values you protest to hold dear.

For those of you who simply heed the siren song of power, this contrarian posturing will make you feel important, acknowledged, at least plausibly “smart.” Especially in DC and the Right’s stumbling political machine, this fluency in distraction, dissembling, bluster without substance, is of course rewarded - in blood money.

I invoke this FuckEmbargo, Lysistrata-style, not to permanently foreclose conversation, but to make the simple statement that if you have chosen to hurt others, my body is “shutting this whole thing down.” You no longer have recourse to my civility, joy, creativity, intellect or body - exactly those prerogatives your leadership has not extended to Americans. If you truly believe change is not possible without hurting someone, I insist the hurt be yours.

This is more than snark. Presuming you have exclusive access to “right,” is not so much pathological as inconsistent with American values. The current climate of the Republican party is no longer as innocuous as voting for your hometown football team, being contrarian to prove that you can, or voting with a single issue in mind. Until you fortify yourself and embrace the call to engage in meaningful conversation, you do not have a place in the gay spaces, world and future we envision: a world built on the simple certainty that we might make people’s lives better without doing harm.

We did not put you here - your choices did. I do not dismiss your concerns out of hand, but they are so intentionally ignorant of mine and those of your party that until you heed the fundamental civil call to see beyond yourselves, I ain’t fucking wit you.

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